Christians and Tattoos

A big question that many Christians, especially young Christians, have is are tattoos okay? Many older generation people say no, and their reason comes down to two verses many times. One of those verses is an Old Testament verse that is from the Mosaic Law. Mosaic Law is a part of the Old Covenant. Besides that, there is historic reason that Leviticus 19:28 is talking about the pagan rituals of the surrounding area. The tribes of the Canaanites used to cut images into their bodies.

You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:28 ESV)

Leviticus 19:28 a tattoo’s mark The Hebrew text here is probably prohibiting bodily disfigurement (see 21:5; Deut 14:1) or practices connected to pagan mourning rites (compare Job 1:20; Isa 22:12). Bodily disfigurement is more likely since it coheres with the general idea of not disrupting normalcy in the order of creation. Further, mourning itself is not condemned.Humankind should not disfigure the human form because it is God’s image (see Gen 1:26). In addition, since Israelites were chosen from among all human nations, their external appearance should reflect this status (Deut 14:1–2) (Barry, Mangum, Brown, Heiser, Custis, Ritzema, Bomar, 2012).

So as an act of mourning the Canaanites would disfigure the body, something the Jews was warned not to do. This is the reason for the law aginst the practice of cutting or marking the body. Also, this would reduce the “worship” of the dead. Extended mourning of the dead is fine. Yet cutting is not is what this law was about. Now, with the end of the Old Covenant which was sealed with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. When Christ died the fulfillment occurred and the New Covenant begins.

The other verse that many use comes from the New Testament. This verse does make up a part of the Christian doctrine as well. The verse states that your “body is a temple” and it was written by Paul. Yes, many say that Jesus said this but it was Paul who wrote this and was discussing committing sinful acts such as sleeping with prostitutes.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Therefore, shall I take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For it says, “The two will become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a person commits is outside his body, but the one who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God with your body.

(1 Corinthians 6:15–20, LEB)

So this verse also does not stand up to the test when it comes to being against tattoos for Christians. Now when it comes to tattoos and Christians it would most likely come down to the images that you get as a Christian. Demons and other images that are not consistent with Christian beliefs. I personally have been denied a job due to my tattoos in a ministry position. Yet, I am not mad because of the old ideas that many Religion ideas have taught, and many times the thoughts are dangerous.  When it comes to the use of bible verses you cannot just cherry pick what you want. The need of context of both historical and literary is very important.

 

Works Cited

Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Le 19:28). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

 

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